the catholic church ought to have separate lines for confession booths, like grocery stores have different checkout lines. one line would be for folks with, say 15 venial sins or less; the other would be for more and greater sins, like the mortal ones.
i can see it in action.
a teenaged girl goes into the shortline confession and says, "forgive me father, for i have sinned. it's been four hours since my last confession. since then i called my little brother a doodyhead and had impure thoughts about justin timberlake's private parts."
these are small potatos, the priest thinks. "my child, say one hail mary, give five dollars to the church's building fund, and go and sin no more," he tells the girl.
in the line for more and bigger sins is a man who -- well, he's done some very sinful and immoral and illegal things -- hell, he's a mobster. he just found out that he has terminal cancer, so he wants to get right with god.
he goes into the confessional booth and says, "forgive me, father, for i have sinned. it's been -- uh -- about 35 years -- maybe 40, i don't know -- since my last confession ..."
then he tells the priest about all the things he's done: the burglaries, the robberies, the extortions and violence that often came with them, the arsons, the adulteries, the illegal drugs, the murders ... and so on ... and so forth.
while he is confessing all this, the priest is thinking: lord, i wish the pope would let us take notes in here. i could use all this stuff to write a heck of a book about organized crime.
after the mobster is finished with his confession, the priest says, "my son, that's quite a list of sins. why did you go so long between confessions?"
the mobster says, "uh, couldn't you tell, father? i've been busy."
i'm going to write pope benedict xvi and the powers that be at the vatican to see if they'll consider my suggestion. it'll be an ecumental suggestion, because i'm a methodist.